There has been a catastrophic failure of a submarine carrying a crew of five individuals at the site where the Titanic sank to the bottom of the ocean. The scene is quite terrifying. There have been inquiries regarding the feasibility of a potential effort to recover the body. Have you ever pondered the intriguing nature of the human body in the ocean’s depths? The answer lies in the great domain of deep-sea physics, where extreme pressure and temperature create a unique environment. Allow me to accompany you on a journey through history as we delve into this enigmatic and unfamiliar terrain, examining each millisecond with curiosity and wonder.
Before we proceed, let us explore the subject of blood pressure. Pressure is the force exerted on a surface, which in our daily lives typically refers to atmospheric pressure. However, when submerged in water, pressure increases due to the weight of the water above. For every 10 meters (33 feet) of depth, pressure increases by 1 atmosphere (atm), approximately equivalent to 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi). Are you aware that the Titanic’s remains now lie at a depth of roughly 3,800 meters or 12,500 feet? At such depths, the pressure is 380 atmospheres or about 5,600 psi. To give you some context, this is comparable to the weight of an enormous elephant pressing down on every inch of your body.
One could not help but consider the potential consequences if the underwater barrier were to experience a sudden and catastrophic collapse in our present circumstances. It is troubling to contemplate the fate of those individuals who may be confined within. During a hull break, the pressure inside the submarine rapidly equalizes with the pressure outside, reaching up to 380 atmospheres. As a result, the previously stable air inside, which was at a pressure of 1 atmosphere, can become potentially hazardous.
Utilizing the unit of pressure known as Pascals is appropriate for the current situation. Five individuals are currently enclosed within an air bubble, experiencing a force of 38,503,500 Pascals. This particular pressure level is equivalent to 292 kilograms of C4 explosive. However, it is important to note that this occurrence merely commences a treacherous journey into the depths. As the bubble begins imploring, strong heat is generated due to adiabatic compression. Within 11-50 milliseconds, a fiery inferno erupts below the water’s surface. Adiabatic compression is a process whereby gases are compressed rapidly, generating heat in extreme-pressure situations.
If a submarine were to experience a collapse, it is important to know that pockets of pressurized gas can rapidly heat up. These areas can reach temperatures that may exceed several thousand degrees Celsius. It is important to note that the intense heat can have serious consequences, such as vaporizing flesh and bone. However, the critical danger lies in the rapid changes in pressure that may cause serious injuries to passengers. It is believed that the victims may have suffered fatal injuries from the pressure changes before the heat wave.
It’s interesting to note that the speed at which we experience pain can vary quite a bit, ranging from 50 to 1 second. The pain sensation is caused by signals transmitted from our peripheral nervous system to our brain. However, it’s worth noting that this process doesn’t occur instantaneously and may take some time before the pain is felt.
In normal circumstances, transmitting pain signals such as a bump on the toe or a pinch takes roughly 0.1 seconds to reach the brain via our nerves, travelling at a speed of about 2 meters per second. However, in sudden and intense pain cases, the transmission may be slightly faster, at approximately 0.01 seconds, due to the involvement of quicker-conducting nerves called A-delta fibres. In contrast, the catastrophic implosion referred to earlier occurs in about 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds), two to ten times faster than the human body can perceive pain.
The event’s suddenness took aback those aboard the submarine, who may have had difficulty grasping the situation and the emotional toll it exacted. The sequence of occurrences, which encompasses significant amounts of pressure, exceedingly high temperatures resulting from compressed air, and forceful water infiltration, may transpire too rapidly for the brain to comprehend thoughts adequately. While it may not bring much comfort, recognizing this aspect can assist in coming to terms with the passing of these five individuals. As humans, our brains are wired to react to external stimuli. They may struggle to process the sudden and significant changes within 50 milliseconds below the water’s surface.
While undoubtedly distressing, the disintegration of a submarine provides valuable insights into the challenging reality of underwater exploration and the complex physics at play in such extreme conditions. Through careful analysis of these unfortunate incidents, regulations governing human-crewed submarines can be refined, and future submarine designs can be crafted with even greater safety features, guaranteeing a safer voyage on the high seas.
The experience of tragedy can offer significant insights that help us better understand the world around us and face its many hazards with greater confidence. Though it can be a difficult and trying experience, it also highlights the immense power of nature, the fragility of life, and the courage of those who dare to explore beyond the limits of human understanding.
As one embarks on each new dive and expedition into uncharted territory, the vast expanse of what remains undiscovered never fails to leave a profound impression. The pursuit of knowledge and comprehension of our world, spanning from the depths of the sea to the outer reaches of space, is a testament to our boundless human curiosity and grit. We encounter numerous risks and obstacles throughout this journey and sometimes experience great loss. However, through these experiences, we gain wisdom, evolve, and challenge the limitations of what we once believed was achievable.